DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.01206

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2017/49:9 PP.1206-1218

Should I sacrifice my profit before his eyes? Partner's ability and social distance affecting the tendency of reputation-profit game

Previous studies have shown that when individuals must make a choice between reputation and profit (reputation-profit game), individuals usually tend to get a reputation from the sacrifice of profit. According to competitive altruism theory, the reason why people cooperate to get a reputation at the cost of profit is to compete against others to get some valuable opportunities in the future with the help of the reputation. Based on this perspective, ability and social distance of the game partner (only receives information about reputation) which decide the upper limit of profit and the belief of whether the partner would afford such a chance would affect the tendency of reputation-profit game. To demonstrate these two factors and reveal the nature of reputation obtaining behavior, in this research, we hypothesized that ability and social distance of the partner would affect the preference between reputation and profit, when faced with a partner whose ability is strong or social distance is close, individual would prefer reputation than profit, and there would be an interaction between ability and social distance.
A condition about contribution was set up in Experiment 1. 40 undergraduate students participated in this experiment. They were told that they would attend in an online activity. First, participants took part in a series of dummy prisoner dilemma game and won some money (100 tokens). Second, they were told that they would play a game (trust game) with another student in the future, and the importance of reputation was introduced (all participants were trustee). After that, participants were told that there were some public accounts which need their contribution, and they could make virtual contribution to each account and only one would be chosen as the real. Before the contribution, they were told that the contribution would be seen by a student who would be the trustee. Ability (truster's principal:high/low) and social distance (schoolmate/students from other schools) were manipulated as independent variables, and contribution was used as dependent variable. A condition about bargain was set up in Experiment 2. 55 undergraduate students participated in this experiment. The background was just like experiment 1. First, participants were told that they will perform as suppliers in an online task whose task was pricing the materials they sold. They were told their profit would be calculated respectively in each zone, and only one would be selected as the final result. Second, participants were told if the price they set was higher than the "real value", there would be 50% chance of being confiscated half of earnings in this turn. Then they were learned that there would be two times of bargain in each zone, and buyers would chat about each supplier soon after the first bargain. Before the pricing tasks, participants were informed that the number of suppliers was greater than the number of players in each zone; each player had the right to choose a supplier to buy material in the second bargain. Ability (player's demand:high/low/none) and social distance (schoolmate/students from other schools) were manipulated as independent variables, and participant's pricing result was used as dependent variable.
The results of Experiment 1 showed that participants donated more money when his donation was seen by a student whose ability was high. This finding demonstrated that the higher the ability is the more reputation individual wants. And the results of Experiment 2 showed that there was an interaction between ability and social distance. Only when partner's ability of the future mission was low, participants preferred to propose a lower price before the partner whose social distance is close in order to gain reputation from the sacrifice of profit. This finding showed only when ability is low, then individuals would take social distance into account, and they tend to acquire a good reputation before a partner whose social distance is close.
All the findings supported our hypothesis that ability and social distance are the core factors which affect the tendency of reputation-profit game. These results verified the tactical of individual's choice in reputation-profit game.

Key words:reputation-profit game,ability,social distance,social identity

ReleaseDate:2017-10-20 02:10:46

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